8 December 2005
The Toronto Star
Copyright (c) 2005 The Toronto Star
MONTREAL -- The political rhetoric was stronger than the scientific facts in Prime Minister Paul Martin's remarks yesterday at the U.N. climate change conference. Some examples:
Martin: Referred repeatedly to an ice-free Northwest Passage, quoting experts as saying this could happen well before mid-century.
Science: The federal government's own ice service says the Northeast Passage running along the Arctic coast of Russia will open first. Second will probably be a shipping route that passes across the North Pole. The Northwest Passage is forecast to open last - after mid-century - because prevailing winds and currents pile sea ice up at choke points.
Martin: Said the federal government has "increased substantially" the money devoted to Arctic science recently.
Science: Over the past decade, funding for research by the federal meteorological service has dropped 21 per cent after adjustment for inflation. Canada's only climate monitoring station in the central Arctic was closed because of budget cuts. Budget shortfalls forced the mothballing of one of the two Polar Continental Shelf bases essential to Arctic science expeditions. Despite getting more funds, university researchers complained to Martin last week the government wasn't committed to taking account of their findings.
Martin: Said the protective ozone layer in the atmosphere was recovering, as a result of curbs on ozone-destroying chemicals negotiated in 1987 in Montreal.
Science: New evidence announced this week at a meeting in San Francisco shows recovery of the ozone layer has slowed and will now take well beyond mid-century.
Martin: "We are going to hit our Kyoto targets," referring to Canada's pledge to reduce annual emissions of greenhouse gases to 6 per cent below 1990 levels throughout the period 2008-2012.
Science: Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are now 24 per cent above 1990 levels. Federal scientists have advised the government the Kyoto targets will be met only through massive purchases of carbon credits, both domestically and overseas.